Go Innovate! kick-starts students' rugby business

The Rugby Post team – Javid Ali, Bronson Wati-Kaye, Johnny Love and Sage Lasseter Haycock.

A team of four Massey University students focused on tackling the emerging US rugby market have taken out the top prize in the annual Go Innovate! competition. Javid Ali, Sage Lasseter Haycock, Johnny Love and Bronson Wati-Kaye may be studying diverse disciplines, but the North Shore locals share a love of rugby and a keen entrepreneurial spirit.

The team came together to enter the innovation competition with their idea, coined The Rugby Post. They aim to create a website platform that connects New Zealand’s rich amateur rugby talent with emerging offshore markets that are seeking expertise.

Politics student Bronson Wati-Kaye says his years playing school-boy rugby were the inspiration for the idea.

“New Zealand offers huge ‘human capital’ – a strong level of talented players and coaches whose skills are highly valued in international markets,” he says.

“We see the US market as a big opportunity. There is so much money invested in sport in the US and with rugby gaining momentum there is an opportunity waiting to be unleashed.”

The Rugby Post team reflect on their Go Innovate! win.

Next step: Set up shop at the ecentre

The team won the top Go Innovate! prize of $3000 in seed funding and entry to the ecentre’s Sprint business development programme. As soon as study wraps for the year the group will set up shop in the ecentre, Massey’s onsite business incubator, to focus on developing the idea with the help of business mentors and a tailored validation programme.

The judging panel for the event consisted of acting ecentre chief executive Dorian Scott, Mum’s Garage entrepreneur Natalie Robinson and Wonder Room curiosator Nick Hindson. They felt the group’s presentation was compelling and passionately delivered.

“They have obviously put a lot of thought into the idea and when questioned could confidently talk to the problem and how they could add value. We also liked that it was a New Zealand-centric issue begging for an answer,” Mr Hindson says.

Business student Sage Lasseter Haycock  says the experience has been an eye-opener and they would encourage other students to give it a go. He also felt entering as a group offered an advantage.

“Not only were we able to draw on diverse skills but we could also share the load, which helped with balancing our studies,” he says.

The competition, which is held each year at Massey University’s Auckland campus, is hosted by Massey University Student Enterprise (MUSE) and aims to foster innovation and encourage collaboration and enterprise development.

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